Every single year I find myself racing to either my local Target or Best Buy with the excitement of buying the newest version of NCAA Football.
Mitch Harper of Lawless Republic put like this:
When this annual game comes out, it signifies another key turning point in the off-season. Now we only have national media Days, fall camp, and boom it’s the opening weekend.
I couldn’t agree more with Mitch. This game signifies the first REAL hype and excitement for the upcoming football season.
Every year I buy the game and go right to Dynasty mode to play as the Illinois Fighting Illini. Each time, I say to myself, “What can I do to make this team better?” I schedule the hardest nonconference opponents and (eventually) bring the Illini to the top of college football.
One day as I was playing NCAA 14, I saw fellow Fansider Mitch Harper performed a season simulation for his BYU Cougars. I thought, “Why not do the same for the Fighting Illini?”
Like Mitch, I didn’t edit any of the ratings to the players. All I did was added players actual names and set the difficulty to All-American mode.
I did make the Southern Illinois Salukis and put them in for the Idaho Vandals, but the game would not let me schedule them in Week 1. So, to keep to the true flow of the year, I kept the FCS Midwest opponent for the first game of the season.
How the simulation played out for the Fighting Illini could be seen as a disappointment or step in the right direction. Illinois finished 4-8 and finished 5th in the Big Ten – Leaders. However, if it wasn’t for comebacks by Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State, the Illini could have been 7-5 and 3rd in the Big Ten – Leaders.
Here’s how the game-by-game results played out. And yes, “polishapostle179” is my PlayStation Network ID. If you want to add me, feel free.
Illinois’ 2013 Schedule & Results Simulated in NCAA Football 14
Some things that stand out from these simulated results:
- Overall, I feel the scores were inflated, but besides that I could see Illinois going 2-2 (if not 3-1) in their nonconference schedule rather than 1-3. I could see the Cincinnati game being as close as it was in the simulation. Part of me wonders if the Bearcats will be the 10-3 team we saw in 2012.
- Expect Illinois to come out stronger in the Chicago Homecoming Game against the Washington Huskies. Seems like NCAA 14 is high on the Huskies early on.
- A loss to Miami (OH) where they scored over 60 points? If Illinois started 1-3 and one of those three losses was to the RedHawks, the fans would be forming at the gates for the head of Tim Beckman.
- Pulling off a win in Lincoln over Nebraska would be a huge positive to begin the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
- A string of losses during the middle of the season seems expected. However, I’d still be happy if Illinois was able to hang with Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State like they did in the simulation. Illinois could have beat OSU 53-52, but the Buckeyes took an interception 102 yards for a TD as time expired (2-point conversion added).
- Two nice wins to close out the season. I expect Illinois to beat Purdue and a win over Northwestern would be amazing. However, if Illinois is going to beat Northwestern, I’d expect the score to be a little closer.
Some individual notes:
- We’ve been talking all offseason about what Illini fans can expect from Nathan Scheelhaase in Bill Cubit’s offensive system. In this simulation, Scheelhaase threw for 5,836 yards with 42 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a 136.9 QB Rating. On top of that, he ran for 230 yards and had only one rushing touchdown.
- Illinois’ rushing attack was all Donovonn Young in this simulation. Young ran for 1,187 yards with 21 rushing touchdowns. He also had 560 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
- Ryan Lankford and Spencer Harris both had over 1,000 yards for the Illini. Lankford had 1,925 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Harris had 1,118 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Steve Hull deserves an honorable mention as he had 972 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
- Mason Monheim had 146 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
Illinois Award Winners:
- Bednarik Award – LB Mason Monheim (LB Jonathan Brown came in 2nd)
- Nagurski Award – DL Austin Teitsma
- Walker Award – RB Donovonn Young
- Biletikoff Award – WR Ryan Lankford
- Lombardi Award - DL Austin Teitsma
- Butkus Award - LB Mason Monheim (LB Jonathan Brown came in 2nd)
- Nathan Scheelhaase finished 3rd for the Maxwell Award and 2nd for the O’Brien Award.
National notes from simulation:
- The Louisville Cardinals won their first ever BCS National Championship over the Fresno State Bulldogs (yep, that’s right). Fresno State was able to make the BCS Title game because Texas A&M and Ohio State lost in their conference championship games.
- Five of Illinois’ 2013 opponents finished in the final Top 25 polls.
- Defending Champion Alabama finished at #14 with an overall record of 10-3.
- Johnny Manizel won the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
Notable Bowl Games:
- Rose Bowl – Oregon defeats Michigan, 35-3
- Fiesta Bowl – Texas A&M defeats Oklahoma, 44-28
- Sugar Bowl – Ohio State defeats South Carolina, 42-21
- Orange Bowl – Notre Dame defeats Virginia Tech, 20-17
- BCS National Championship – Louisville defeats Fresno State, 31-28 (last second FG)
What do you think, Illini Nation? How would you feel if Illinois finished the 2013 season at 4-8 without a bowl game? Would it be a step in the right direction?
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